DSL Marketing Myrlte Beach

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Six-Step Survival Guide for Search Engine Updates

Anyone who has suffered a sudden loss of website traffic understands the frustration of trying to adjust to search engine algorithm changes. This year alone, business owners have been scrambling to modify their sites following Google's Panda update and a more recent change that aims to provide users with "the most up-to-date results."

But what if, instead of struggling to restore traffic after algorithm updates, you stayed ahead of the game and effectively bulletproofed your site against an unexpected plunge in visitor traffic?

If you're ready to go on the offense, here are six steps for surviving whatever algorithm changes the search engines might concoct in the coming months.

1. Focus on quality, authoritative content.
The algorithms search engines use take hundreds of factors into consideration when determining which sites to rank first in query results. Among them are page quality, relevance to a search query, and the number and quality of inbound links. The relative importance of these factors fluctuates as search engine algorithms become more sophisticated, resulting in the changes that throw unsuspecting webmasters for a loop.

But remember what search engines value most: Providing high-quality results for their users. The "analysis of a site's perceived value to users" is the factor that will increase most in importance in ranking algorithms, according to the 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors, an annual survey of top search strategists from Seattle-based search engine optimization tools developer and online community SEOMoz.

Related: New Google Search Update Could Spell More Trouble for Business Websites

So before you publish any content to your site, make sure it's substantive and thoroughly researched to maximize its value in the eyes of your customers as well as the search engines.

2. Avoid "bad" backlinks.
A backlink is any link to your website from another website. It can be tempting to resort to easy-to-implement but low quality backlinks that drive traffic. But be aware that search engines are on the lookout for schemes such as the "10,000 backlinks for $10" packages you'll see advertised across the Internet, and could possibly penalize you in future algorithm updates.

Instead, publish authoritative content that people will want to share on their own sites and on social networks, which will naturally result in relevant backlinks to your site.

3. Invest in your social presence.
Last year, Google spokesman Matt Cutts confirmed that the search giant is using social signals, including links from Twitter and Facebook "shares," as a ranking factor influencing where sites fall on its results pages.

Related: How Apple's Siri Could Destroy Local SEO

That means if you aren't active on social networking sites, figure out where your readers like to hang out and set up profiles there. For best results, commit at least 20 minutes a day to sharing content and connecting with your followers on those sites.

4. Be mindful of site structure and navigation.
Although the definition of what good site design is has changed over time, the general principles behind proper structuring haven't.

Whether you're building a new site or improving an existing one, maintain a "shallow" navigation structure so all pages can be accessed in three or fewer clicks. This not only makes your content more accessible to customers, it helps search engines crawl them. Make sure to eliminate duplicate content across pages and add internal links between pages so users can easily move through your site.

5. Diversify web traffic sources.
The old saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket" counts double for your traffic generation strategies. If the bulk of your traffic comes from search engines, you're in a precarious position if algorithms change in a way that lowers your rankings. You can protect your business website from this by diversifying traffic sources.

Related: Ways to Build Online Traffic and Boost SEO

In addition to researching which keywords optimize your site for search engine ranking, build an email list, add social sharing buttons to your site and become more active on the social media sites where your readers live.

6. Stay current on SEO-related news.
This year, we've seen several Google Panda updates that aimed to reduce the presence of low-value "content farm" sites on search result pages, affecting an estimated 12 percent of all its search queries. Those changes occurred in addition to the hundreds of minor updates that search engines make every year to try to refine the quality of their results.

Consider following search engine optimization experts on social media sites. To get a better sense of how frequently search engine algorithms change and how often major updates build on the tweaks that come before them, take a look at SEOMoz's graphic depiction of Google Algorithm Changes. By studying these trends and making projections, you may be able to anticipate and prepare for future changes.

Following these steps can help keep your business website busy even if your search traffic is affected by a future algorithm adjustment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Google begins to put the Squeeze on Valuable Web Data from its own Analtyics

Google is now making those who are logged to Google search from a secure connection. As a result, Google Analytics data will suffer.

Google Begins Hiding Information in Google Analytics

OK, you read the title and are probably wondering is this for real? I am sorry to say that yes it is. If you are a non-technical person this topic might seem a tad complicated so I am going to try to simplify it as much as possible.

Google Now Using an Encrypted Connection when Logged In

If you are logged in to a Google account, you will now be pushed to a secure SSL connection when you are doing your searches from Google.com. So while previously you would have gone to http://www.google.com you will now be directed to https://www.google.com. By doing this, Google is now encrypting your search queries and the corresponding search results.

The Effect of the Encryption Protocol SSL

So what does this mean to you as an SEO or internet marketing expert? Well, in a nut shell it’s going to change your Google analytics data.google searches while logged in will not show in google analytics

According to Google, “When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query.”

So to clarify, when someone is logged into Google and performs a search from Google.com, clicks on a search result and then visits your website, you will no longer see the query that brought them in. Instead, you will see that they came from Google as a referring site.

Matt Cutts, head of WebSpam at Google has said that this should not have a massive impact on data, stating that less than 10% of search queries will be affected. Google does offer the alternative option of substituting for webmaster tools search data.

“They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools.” – Google Webmaster Blog

Although the webmaster tools search data is of course welcomed, it is nowhere near the quality of data that Google Analytics offers. This data is almost impossible to sort efficiently and is often unreliable, especially in the instance of average position of a page for a keyword – a slightly different subject of course but still worth mentioning.

Referrer Data Will be Blocked Too

Referrer data is based on the number of times one website sends a visitor to another website. According to Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, “In Google’s new system, referrer data will be blocked. This means site owners will begin to lose valuable data that they depend on to understand how their sites are found through Google. They’ll still be able to tell that someone came from a Google search. They won’t, however, know what that search was.”


Overall, this seems like a step back for Google and the Google Analytics program. They are now intentionally hiding valuable data. What’s interesting is that none of these changes will affect the paid side of Google search. Those using AdWords will still be able to access all data as usual.

As a last point to consider, Google is working hard to generate the master login with Google +. The more people who login to Google + and perform searches, the more valuable search data we loose. So as a result, if the future is bright for Google + (which is debatable) then it is dark for Google Analytics organic search traffic data.

About The Author: John E Lincoln is Director of SEO Consulting and Social at SEO Inc., a 13 year old SEO company known as an innovator in online marketing working with a variety of notable online businesses. You can follow John on Twitter at: @johnelincoln.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why hotels should invest more in online marketing in 2012

Allocating the appropriate amount of your property’s overall marketing budget to online marketing can be more of an art, than science. Here’s why you need a significant investment in online marketing to increase direct bookings and key areas to focus your efforts on to realise the highest digital ROI.


There are more channels than ever to reach travel shoppers. The online channels travel shoppers use to research and book travel continues to grow. From the traditional channels such as direct websites with engaging search engine optimised (SEO) copy and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns, to the growing channels like social media and mobile websites, Internet marketing is complex – a maze of branding and promotional messages from properties mixed with user generated content and reviews from travellers. With a more fragmented way to reach consumers, more resources must be allocated to reach them.

The industry is seeing steady recovery. According to STR, during the week ending August 20, overall U.S. revenue per available room grew 7.6 percent from 2010 to 2011. Furthermore, PwC’s latest research shows 2011 is on pace to have a 4.6 percent growth in lodging demand over last year. No matter how bright the horizon though, you’re likely still working with a limited budget - but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work exponentially in your favour, especially in regards to online marketing.

Internet marketing produces the highest ROI with the most accountability. The Internet easily produces the highest ROI and best value in hotel marketing and is the only growth channel in hospitality. Unlike other areas, the results of marketing efforts are measurable and transparent. Smart hoteliers can use this information to their advantage to track, modify, and reinvest with confidence in revenue producing efforts.

This graph based on a recent International Econsultancy survey shows just how much of businesses’ marketing budgets are being devoted to online efforts:


Optimised Proprietary Website

Some may ask why if you also have a brand website. While brand websites can be a terrific asset, they are built to create an even playing field for their portfolio. This can be limiting when competing against other hotels in the brand’s portfolio, as well as competitive brands in your area. Having a proprietary website can fill gaps and help your hotel gain visibility for searches like “hotels near Mall of America” or “Bethesda hotel wedding.” Proprietary sites supplement brand efforts in a big way, giving you twice the amount of online real estate space. If you’re an independent hotel, a proprietary website is basically a necessity.

Some marketing strategies need to be covered with any website. It needs to have powerful SEO, including optimised content, link building and a local search distribution that make it easy to find in search engines. It should also have relevant, compelling copy. If your property has an independent website that is currently underperforming, you may need to increase the amount of budget directed to your site, or consider a new vendor.

Social Media

According to a TripAdvisor survey, most hotel owners embrace social media, as 57 percent plan to increase their social media marketing budgets. And with the popularity of social media as a channel consumers prefer to use, it’s a no brainer for properties to have a social media plan. From travel shoppers visiting hotels’ Facebook and Twitter profiles to read guest comments, to shoppers searching for videos on YouTube, social has become THE favorite channel of some. Take advantage by engaging with past and prospective guests and using custom tabs on Facebook to offer specials and the ability to book.


According to the same TripAdvisor survey, 99 percent of hotel owners plan to respond to guest reviews. TripAdvisor has over 50 million reviews… and travels shoppers read them. It’s crucial your staff monitors and responds to all negative reviews and many positive reviews. It helps generate loyalty and show potential future guests that you care about making their stay a first-class experience.


eMarketer reports 25 percent of leisure travellers use mobile devices to book rooms, and Google reports that 19 percent of all hotel searches happen on mobile devices. With that type of explosive growth, it’s imperative hotels have mobile friendly websites to reach travellers on-the-go and increase bookings. It’s yet another channel that many consumers prefer, which means your property should make it convenient for them to reach you there.

This graph shows specific digital channels where companies plan to increase spend:


The question of how much exactly a hotel should invest in Internet marketing is still up to the individual property, since each faces unique market segments and has unique goals and objectives for growth. For example, if you’re a select service brand with meeting space, you may need more budget allocated to creating or updating your proprietary website and SEO. If you’re an upscale independent resort, you may need to increase the amount allocated to PPC advertising.

A general rule of thumb focuses on proportional spending. If you have a goal that 30 percent of your total sales be Internet generated, roughly 30 percent of your budget should be Internet allocated. Now this is by no means an exact science (some brands have more marketing support than others, some independents rely more heavily on independent websites, etc.), but serves as a good starting point for most properties.

It’s crucial that online marketing is a priority when planning your 2012 marketing budget. The Internet and travel shopper buying process is far too complex, and your competitors are far too aggressive to put online marketing on the back burner.

(Contributed by hotel Internet marketing company Vizergy).